ORLANDO, FL - A month off can be good for a player, especially if that player's name is Thad Randle.
The Nebraska junior defensive tackle has been fighting chronic knee pain all season. But according to defensive coordinator John Papuchis, the Texas native has looked very good in bowl practices and could play a big impact on Tuesday's Capital One Bowl.
"I would say he has a chance to play a lot of snaps, but I don't know," said Papuchis. "If I was a betting man, I would probably put the over/under at 30."
Randle was injured late last season, but has never fully recovered. The pain remains. He's often seen after practices, when he does practice, or after games with an extreme limp. Yet, he battles on. The 295-pounder played in 12 games, making four starts on the year.
"I respect the fact that he has fought for it, because it would have been easy for him to shut it down and say, ‘I will do it next year.' But he knew we needed him as a team," said Papuchis. "He could have probably had surgery to fix his knee early in the season, but chose not to and battle through it, to give us what he could."
Nebraska will call on his name again just one more time this season. Then Randle will get a much deserved few months of rest.
"It's important because of our depth issues right now; we are counting on Thad to play a bulk of the snaps inside," said Papuchis. "If he goes down early, we obviously would have to make some on the fly adjustments. We have talked about them, but I would rather not have to do that."